THE 2012 AND 2013 TORNADO SEASONS

The devastating tornadoes which hit Oklahoma this May bring to the mind a powerful string of tornadoes that hit Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Georgia and 13 other states in 1999. Those tornadoes resulted in $1.5 billion in insured losses ($2.0 billion in 2012 dollars) in all the affected states, according to ISO. The damage to Oklahoma was nearly $1.0 billion ($1.4 billion in 2012 dollars, according to ISO). The costliest U.S. tornado event, based on insured losses, was the 2011 Tuscaloosa, Alabama, tornadoes, which cost $7.5 billion in insured damages (in 2012 dollars). That was the 10th costliest U.S. catastrophe, based on insured losses, according to ISO. The second costliest tornado event, based on insured losses, was the 2011 tornadoes that hit Joplin, Missouri, and other locations. They cost $7.0 billion in insured losses in 2012 dollars. Updated information on 2013 tornados from the National Weather Services are posted athttp://www.spc.ncep.noaa.gov/climo/online/monthly/newm.html

Severe U.S. thunderstorms, including tornado events, cost $14.9 billion in insured losses and $27.7 billion in economic losses in 2012, according to Munich Re. The U.S. experiences more tornadoes than any other country in the world, according to a 2013 report by Lloyd’s of London. (See Executive Summary, page 4 of Tornadoes a Rising Risk? for additional findings and statistics).

 

NATURAL DISASTER LOSSES IN THE UNITED STATES, 2012
NATURAL DISASTER LOSSES IN THE UNITED STATES, 2012

†Overall agricultural crop losses were approximately $20 billion. $15-17 billion was recovered by the public-private multi-peril crop insurance program, making it the biggest loss in U.S. agricultural insurance history. In average years insured losses were around $9 billion.

Source: © 2013 Munich Re, NatCatSERVICE. As of January 2013.

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TORNADOES IN 2010 AND 2011

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) there were 1,691 tornadoes in 2011, compared to 1,282 in 2010. There were 758 tornadoes in April, the highest monthly toll on record. In May 2011 a tornado in Joplin, Missouri, and surrounding areas caused 158 deaths, making it the deadliest tornado since modern recordkeeping began in 1950, according to NOAA. ISO's Property Claim Services reports that insurers paid about $2.2 billion in claims in Missouri alone from a string of storms, including the Joplin tornado, that struck Missouri and 19 other states from May 20 to May 27, 2011. Across all 19 states the storms caused $6.9 billion in insured losses.

Insured losses from tornadoes/thunderstorms were over $25 billion in 2011, more than double the previous record. It was also the deadliest thunderstorm season in over 75 years, with 553 direct fatalities. Tornadoes were the costliest type of natural disaster in 2011, based on insured losses, according to Munich Re. Tropical cyclones, which include hurricanes, were the second most costly event category ($5.5 billion in insured losses), with Hurricane Irene accounting for most of the losses ($5 billion, including flood losses covered under the National Flood Insurance Program). Winter storms were the third most costly events, with $2 billion in insured losses in 2011.

The number of tornadoes and the deaths they caused were up in 2010, compared with 2009, but below the levels seen in 2008. NOAA reported that there were 1,282 tornadoes in 2010, up from 1,146 in 2009 and fatalities reached 45, after dropping to 21 in 2009.

Tornadoes and thunderstorms caused $13.2 billion in economic losses and $9.5 billion in insured losses in 2010, according to Munich Re. This was the third consecutive year thunderstorms caused over $9 billion in insured losses. Thunderstorms and tornadoes accounted for the largest share of insured losses from natural disasters in 2010, topping winter storms ($2.6 billion), floods ($1.1 billion), earthquakes ($128 million) and tropical cyclones ($120 million), according to Munich Re.

http://www.spc.ncep.noaa.gov/climo/online/monthly/newm.html

TORNADOES

A tornado is a violently rotating column of air that extends from a thunderstorm and comes into contact with the ground, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In an average year about 1,000 tornadoes are reported nationwide, according to NOAA. Tornado intensity is measured by the enhanced Fujita (EF) scale. The scale rates tornadoes on a scale of 0 through 5, based on the amount and type of wind damage. It incorporates 28 different “damage indicators,” based on damage to a wide variety of structures ranging from trees to shopping malls.

 

THE FUJITA SCALE FOR TORNADOES
    Original F scale (1) Enhanced F scale (2)
Category Damage Wind speed (mph) 3-second 
gust (mph)
F-0 Light 40-72  65-85
F-1 Moderate 73-112 86-110
F-2 Considerable 113-157  111-135
F-3 Severe 158-207 136-165
F-4 Devastating 208-260 166-200
F-5 Incredible 261-318 Over 200
(1) Original scale: wind speeds represent fastest estimated speeds over ¼  mile.
(2) Enhanced scale: wind speeds represent maximum 3-second gusts. Implemented on February 1, 2007.

Source:  U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

 

 

NUMBER OF TORNADOES AND RELATED DEATHS PER MONTH, 2012 (1)
NUMBER OF TORNADOES AND RELATED DEATHS PER MONTH, 2012 (1)

(1) Excludes Puerto Rico. Does not include tornadoes crossing state lines. Counts these tornadoes as one event.

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Storm Prediction Center, National Weather Service.

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TORNADOES AND RELATED DEATHS BY STATE, 2012 (1)
State Tornadoes Fatalities Rank (2) State Tornadoes Fatalities Rank (2)
Alabama 55 3 4 Montana 3 0 24
Alaska 0 0 27 Nebraska 43 0 7
Arizona 1 0 26 Nevada 2 0 25
Arkansas 18 0 13 New Hampshire 2 0 25
California 11 0 18 New Jersey 1 0 26
Colorado 33 0 9 New Mexico 6 0 22
Connecticut 0 0 27 New York 8 0 21
D.C. 0 0 27 North Carolina 23 0 12
Delaware 1 0 26 North Dakota 9 0 20
Florida 48 1 5 Ohio 13 4 16
Georgia 15 0 15 Oklahoma 63 6 3
Hawaii 1 0 26 Oregon 0 0 27
Idaho 2 0 25 Pennsylvania 12 0 17
Illinois 31 9 10 Rhode Island 1 0 26
Indiana 18 14 13 South Carolina 10 0 19
Iowa 16 0 14 South Dakota 11 0 18
Kansas 95 1 2 Tennessee 29 3 11
Kentucky 43 23 7 Texas 115 0 1
Louisiana 45 0 6 Utah 1 0 26
Maine 1 0 26 Vermont 1 0 26
Maryland 16 0 14 Virginia 11 0 18
Massachusetts 1 0 26 Washington 0 0 27
Michigan 6 0 22 West Virginia 3 0 24
Minnesota 36 0 8 Wisconsin 4 0 23
Mississippi 48 0 5 Wyoming 4 0 23
Missouri 29 6 11 United States 945 (3) 70  

(1) Ranked by total number of tornadoes.
(2) States with the same number receive the same ranking.
(3) The U.S. total will not match data used in other charts because it counts tornadoes that cross state lines.

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Storm Prediction Center, National Weather Service.

View Archived Tables

 

 

TOP TEN STATES, BY NUMBER OF TORNADOES, 2012 (1)
Rank State Number of tornadoes
1 Kansas 145
2 Texas 114
3 Alabama 87
4 Mississippi 75
5 Kentucky 65
6 Louisiana 53
7 Nebraska 48
8 Oklahoma 41
9 Florida 40
10 Illinois 39

(1) Includes tornadoes that cross state lines.

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Storm Prediction Center, National Weather Service.

View Archived Tables

 

 

TORNADOES AND RELATED DEATHS IN THE UNITED STATES, 1992-2012 (1)
Year Tornadoes Deaths Year Tornadoes Deaths Year Tornadoes Deaths
1992 1,297 39 1999 1,345 94 2006 1,103 67
1993 1,173 33 2000 1,071 40 2007 1,098 81
1994 1,082 69 2001 1,216 40 2008 1,692 126
1995 1,234 30 2002 941 55 2009 1,156 21
1996 1,173 25 2003 1,376 54 2010 1,282 45
1997 1,148 67 2004 1,819 36 2011 1,691 553
1998 1,424 130 2005 1,264 38 2012 (2) 939 70

(1) Excludes Puerto Rico. Does not include tornadoes crossing state lines. Counts these tornadoes as one event.
(2) Preliminary.

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Storm Prediction Center, National Weather Service.

View Archived Tables

 

 

U.S. THUNDERSTORM LOSS TRENDS, 1980-2012
(Annual totals 1980–2012)
U.S. THUNDERSTORM LOSS TRENDS, 1980-2012

Source: 2013 Munich Re, NatCatSERVICE; The Property Claim Services (PCS) unit of ISO. As of January 2013.

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